Spiritual Warfare - Classic Bible Study Guide

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Spiritual WarfareA Practical and Real Way to VictoryByJessie Penn-LewisOriginally published byTHE OVERCOMER LITERATURE TRUST, EnglandDistributed ByCLC PublicationsThis work is in the public domain1

CONTENTSChapterPageOne The Spiritual Warfare . 7Two What Is "Prayer Warfare"?. 11Three The Way into the "Warfare" Plane. 13Four The Prayer Battle . 19Five The Place of the Will in "Warfare". 23Six Be Filled in Spirit. 27Seven Discerning Between Soul and Spirit. 31Eight Counterfeits of the Spirit-life. 33Nine The "Soul-life" Expressed in Speech. 35Ten Keeping the Mind Free for the Spirit. 37Eleven Victory in Conflict. 41Twelve The "Law of Passivity". 45Thirteen Control of the Imagination. 55Fourteen What Do We Mean by "Standing" on Calvary?. 712

Chapter OneThe Spiritual Warfare"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the wiles of the Devil. For the adversarieswith whom we wrestle . are the Principalities, the Powers, and the Sovereigns of this present darkness, the spirits ofevil in the heavens" (Ephesians 6:11-12, Conybeare).We wonder if the Lords people really believe that the Bible means exactly what it says, when it is written that the"whole world lies under the sway of the evil one" (1 John 5:19) and that the "prince of the power of the air" is the spiritwho now works in the sons of disobedience! Moreover, that Satan is the god of this world, and that his principalitiesand powers are the world-rulers of this darkness? Apart from the death of Christ as an expiatory sacrifice for sin, andthe recognition of the death of the sinner with the Savior, there is no guarantee of any soul not being misled by theAdversary—not even righteousness being a sufficient safeguard, as we see in 2 Corinthians 11:15. Do we believethat?The dividing line caused by the cross has become acute in Christendom. Through the acceptance of the cross thesons of God are being ripened for translation; and through the rejection of the cross the children of unbelief will be leftin darkness—a darkness made even darker because it is called "light" and "progress."There is a sphere of prayer which lies beyond a person’s simple asking for blessing—a sphere of prayer expoundedon in Ephesians 6. It is known only by those who have experientially passed, on the basis of the teachings found inRomans 6, and by way of Ephesians 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, on into the sixth chapter of the Ephesians epistle. This sphereinvolves warfare!The pivot verse in Romans 6 is "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him." Then in Ephesians 1 and2, Paul shows how Christ was raised from the dead, and we were raised up together with Him, and made to sittogether in the heavenly places in Christ. Finally, Ephesians 6 shows the spiritual conflict with spirit foes, which thebeliever finds himself brought into as he personally experiences spirit-union with Christ.In union with the enthroned Lord, the believer in due time finds the conflict of Ephesians 6 unfolded to him. Hediscovers that there is a prayer-warfare where he not only needs Christ as his life within but also as "the whole armorof God," his covering without. Here he will meet in direct combat, without any intervention of "flesh and blood," thesatanic principalities and powers; and here he will learn, by standing on the firm foundation of the gospel (e.g., Christcrucified) to overthrow the foe—and then with "unwearied persistence" to hold the victory for himself and others,especially for messengers going forth to proclaim the Good News. Hallelujah!3

Chapter TwoWhat Is "Prayer Warfare"?Briefly, prayer warfare simply means holding unceasingly the power of the "finished work of Christ" over the hosts ofevil, in their attack upon some place or person, until the victory is won. Just as Moses lifted his hands stedfastly untilthe victory was won, so the prayer warrior holds up steadfastly the victory of the cross—the finished victory of Christover Satan—until the forces of evil retreat and are vanquished.This requires a true knowledge of Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20 in experience, and many lessons on abiding on thethrone with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), before prolonged conflicts are thus prayed through and won. The truth is, so manybelievers live in inward conflict regarding themselves—often with regard to mundane or petty matters—that they cannotunderstand Ephesians 6 with its warfare against spiritual hosts of evil in the atmosphere where, living "Christ-encased,”the prayer warriors wrestle and overthrow the principalities and powers attacking the church of Christ."Prayer warfare" has to do entirely with direct warfare with the powers of darkness—not with "flesh and blood"(Ephesians 6:12); therefore it does not allow the exercise of "will power" or psychic force, for if any warfare is needed inconnection with persons it is not with the individual himself but with the adversary who is blinding him, or misleadinghim, that we "wrestle." Let prayer warriors claim the "It is finished" of Calvary upon the unseen hosts of Satanopposing the proclamation of the gospel, or holding souls in bondage and darkness. Christ's last words of triumph willprevail as we pray through in union with Him on the throne.4

Chapter ThreeThe Way into the "Warfare" PlaneThe warfare plane is on the resurrection side of the cross, not in the earth sphere. It is when the spirit is set freeand united to the risen Christ that we can expect to come up against the evil powers that reside in the atmosphere.The taking of your position on the basis of Romans 6 needs to be understood, therefore, as the foundation for growth inthe spiritual life, and as the basis for all the advancing from plane to plane which follows. Just as you saw that Christbore your sins in His own body on the tree, and when you believed this, God gave you a new life, so you see that theold creation—the old Adam—was also taken by Him to the cross; i.e., (1) as you hold the position that all the guilt of sinhas been put away, so you hold the position that (2) the "old Adam" in entirety has been nailed to the cross. Both callfor a "reckoning" of faith which God makes true. In the first instance sins (plural) are put away; in the second instanceyou are put into a position in which you may have victory over sin (the sinful nature).As you hold that position or attitude toward sin you will find that sin loses its power to hold you. The "warfare plane"of Ephesians 6 is not a fight with sin, but is the elemental conflict of the new creation with spirit foes while the believerholds steadily his death attitude toward sin.For the victory of Ephesians 6 the believer must therefore hold the foundation of Romans 6 very clearly, for if the"old Adam" life is allowed to intervene there is certain defeat on the "warfare plane."But if you have the death of the cross in its aspect of the "old man crucified" really worked into you by the HolySpirit, some force against sin will rise up in you enabling you to say "I will not," instead of being helplessly overcome.Because Christ did this work on the cross, no sin has a right to exercise dominion over you. If you will not let sin reign,the word is clear: "Sin shall not have dominion over you." There is no reason for you to be any longer a poor, helplessvictim; you have a right to say that "sin shall not have dominion." The Lord has done all He can do on the cross, andHe has sent the Holy Spirit to carry out in you all that was done at Calvary for you. Therefore, when you refuse to letsin reign you always have the power and energy of the Holy Spirit backing you up. You will never wrestle against andconquer sin by your own nature, for your own nature welcomes it! Thank God—the least bit of true rebellion in youagainst anything that is wrong in or around you comes from God.When you discover within you any rebellion against remaining in bondage to sin, welcome it! Surely that did notcome from the old fallen nature. Yes, rebel against anything in you that is contrary to the redemption in Christ. "But,"you say, "there are things which so quickly knock me over." Do not yield to despair. Rather, rebel against it, for it isthe Holy Spirit who arouses that rebellion. Do not be passive even toward doubtful things. Do not say, "This must beGod’s will," or, "I am 'afflicted' with a bad temper and cannot help it." Go to Romans 6 and read: "Our old man wascrucified with Him . . . . that we should no longer be slaves to sin."1In connection with this, however, you need to keep in mind the difference between the completed work of Christ onthe cross and the experiential working out of it in you individually— the difference between what Christ has done "onceand for all" which you hold by faith, and what has yet to be done in you moment by moment. As you hold the footing offaith—that the "old man" has been crucified—the material which the devil works upon in the old creation isprogressively brought into death; then, on the basis of that death with Christ, the Holy Spirit builds up in you the "newcreation."Briefly, this is how we pass by experience into the "warfare plane." As the spiritual man grows and is more andmore freed by the cross from the old life, he finds he has to take by faith the whole armor of God—which is whollydivine, and is only to be taken and used in the power of the Holy Spirit to wrestle against his spiritual foes.1There is balance needed here. We must not forget that the Christian life is never to be one of tense self-effort. Theactivities of physical life—such as breathing—are a self-conscious effort only when the body is sick. When we arehealthy, our breathing is not labored; nor do we need to remind ourselves continually that we must breathe to live. Thisis equally true of the spiritual life. So many of us try by mental effort to "reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,but alive unto God. . . . " and it just does not work. But once this liberty has been shown to us by the Spirit of Life inChrist Jesus (see Romans 8:2), it becomes the simple basis of life to walk in the Spirit. All our complicated intellectualapproach is set aside, and stress and strain prevail only when we are sick and out of harmony with the will of God.Spiritual truth is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in such a way that we may trust and live in the light of the knowledgegiven to us. This is equally true of all that follows concerning conflict with the powers of evil; and an inbuilt resistancebegins to be formed in us to all Satan's works and wiles, while self-conscious effort on our part is stilled.5

Chapter FourThe Prayer Battle“In the warfare plane, is much time and wrestling necessary?" someone asks. To this we answer: Yes, everyminute of your time is necessary—"praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." You need to pray overeverything, for protection from the foes watching to break in upon your life. This does not mean always on your knees,but a "praying without ceasing" in your inner being.For this there needs to be a "discernment of spirits" (1 John 4:1). It is only as we advance in spiritual growth thatwe apprehend that our foes are actually spirit beings, distinct personal entities. They are geographically in a place, orthey are geographically out of it. They come, and they go away when they are defeated (James 4:7). In order torecognize and defeat them you must recognize the reality of their existence. As long as they are vaguely described asan "influence" you will fail to obtain real victory over them; just as when you think of the Holy Spirit only as an"influence" you lose the knowledge of Him as a Person."Warfare" prayer is simply saying to God: "Lord, we are aware of the presence of enemies, but we do not wantthem, and we have a right to exemption from their presence, because of the victory of Christ at Calvary over Satan andall his hosts.”Sometimes you cannot discern the cause of pressure. In seeking the cause you may attribute to yourself thingswhich do not belong to you at all, and that may be why you do not get through to victory. You go to Romans 6 and layhold of it—you pray, you read, you use every weapon you know—but there is no victory. Why? You are putting yourcondition down to the wrong cause! If you were to say: "All this irritation in my nervous system, and the pressure uponmy spirit, shows that the enemy is attacking me. I refuse it all in the name of Christ, and claim complete freedomthrough His precious blood"—you would probably get freedom at once. Romans 6 did not work because the cause ofthe trouble was not the old life but the enemy. The Holy Spirit can only bear witness to what is true. If it was the "oldAdam life" manifesting itself, and you rested on Romans 6, the Spirit of God would at once bear witness and deliver.But if the trouble comes from an attack of the adversary, and you recognize it and appeal to God for exemption anddeliverance on the ground of the finished work of Christ, the Holy Spirit will immediately bear witness to that.Pray for light, and test the weapons God has given, and when you find the right one, then— it works!6

Chapter FiveThe Place of the Will in "Warfare""It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).This does not mean that God wills or chooses instead of you, but that God works in you to bring you to the point ofexercising the act of choice. It is so with the unsaved. God the Holy Spirit will strive with a sinner to bring him to thepoint where he himself must choose, "therefore choose life. ." It is taking your stand on God’s side all the time.It is helpful to take a position of intelligent choice at every point before entering upon any piece of work for God.When I was in Finland I had a fellow worker with me, and we used to say together, when we had to decide on varioussteps: "We choose the will of God in this." By our frequent declaration, we always kept unbiased in everything. Hermind went one way, mine perhaps another, but when we stood together and said "We choose God's will in this,” wefound ourselves guided into one course and everything went well. It is very important, when two are working together,to keep in the will of God— two "wills" walking as one, because they both choose the will of God.How the enemy tortures when we think we have missed the will of God! Always remember in connection withdiscerning the will of God that such discernment does not eliminate the need for a childlike trust in God. When by anact of choice you put your will with God’s will, you must trust God definitely to lead you into the path of His will, thoughyou may not see the way He is leading. Even when God gives you discernment to know His will, there is a limit. Youcan go too far over "discerning," and cease to have TRUST. The very seeking to discern what is the will of God maybring the mind into a strain, so that you lose quiet trust in Him.Then there are those who submit to everything around them as God’s will because they do not discern the thingsthat differ. Always recognize that God has His will for you, and the devil has a will for you, and you have also your ownwill. When in doubt about any course, you can say, "I choose the will of God in this," and the Holy Spirit will work alongthe line of your choice. God, as your Creator, has given you a free will, and He asks for the voluntary consent of yourwill to His. The believer has a right to be free from the workings of evil supernatural powers. You are the one to say "Iwill not" to Satan, just as you are the one to say "I will" to God. And God is faithful, He will bring you through, notsomehow but triumphantly!7

Chapter Six"Be Filled in Spirit"(Ephesians 5:18 ASV, margin)The above is the marginal reading of a verse much quoted in connection with the emphasizing of the need of thebeliever's infilling with the Holy Spirit. It is generally taken to mean that Paul urged the Ephesians to "drink deeply ofGod's Spirit" (Weymouth), or to "be filled with the Spirit"—but little is said about the place of the Holy Spirit's indwelling.Hence much ignorance prevails as to the conditions of the Holy Spirit's "filling" and the way of the believer'scooperation with the Spirit, so that He may be able to lead the soul on into spiritual maturity and a deeper knowledge ofGod.It is not generally known by ordinary readers of the Bible that in the Greek manuscripts, from which our English textis taken, there are no capital letters employed, and that what we would call a small “s” is used both for the Spirit of Godand man's own spirit. Hence, in the margin of Ephesians 5 verse 18, an alternative reading is given. The text canmean "Be filled with the Spirit," i.e., with the Spirit of God, or "Be filled in spirit" i.e., the place which the Holy Spirit fillsand indwells.In contrast with the first part of the verse, the latter reading is very suggestive. The apostle says, "Do not be drunkwith wine," i.e., which fills the body, but "be filled in spirit" i.e., so that your body is dominated and controlled by the lawof the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. "Filled in spirit" (not in body), the believer will find utterance from his spirit in "psalmsand hymns and spiritual songs" with an attitude of thankfulness, and easily yield to others when it can be done "in thefear of God."The spirit of man (i.e., "my spirit," 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; 2:11) is the organism, so to speak, or capacity in man, whichis renewed by the new birth (John 3:6; Romans 8:9), and brought into communication with God; and is then capable ofbeing made the residence of the Holy Spirit of God. It is the inner shrine where God dwells, and which can beexpanded in capacity for an ever-increasing "filling" of the Holy Spirit. It is by His Spirit in the "inward man," i.e., theregenerate human spirit (Moule), that the believer is strengthened to apprehend the vastness of the love of God and be"filled unto all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:16-19, ASV).To be thus "filled in spirit" by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of the man must be "divided" from the entanglements of the"soul" (Hebrews 4:12), the work being done by the Word of God "piercing to the joints and marrow," and revealing themental thoughts and conceptions which come from the soul and do not belong to the spirit. The spirit cannot expand incapacity, and be open to the Spirit of God for specific infillings for special need, unless it is thus liberated from soulbonds. But when it is gradually freed by surrender to the knife work of the Word of God, the believer becomes "strongin spirit" (Luke 1:80); and walking "after the spirit" (Romans 8:4)—note the small "s,"2 indicating the spirit of the man,brought into the ruling position over soul and body—he learns to read his spirit, as Paul did; and by its being "pressed"(Acts 18:5) or "bound" (Acts 20:22), or enlarged with a specific influx of the Holy Spirit for authority over the powers ofdarkness (Acts 13:9-10), he knows the mind of God, and how to cooperate in spirit with the Holy Spirit.Prayer warfare against the powers of darkness can only be understood and entered into by those who are"spiritual," i.e., who "walk after the spirit," and not "after the soul"; for it is distinctly a spirit warfare against spirit foes.Mental apprehension of the "warfare" is not enough! Real actual "command" over the spirit foes of Christ and Hischurch is only possible "in the spirit.” To "be filled in spirit" by the Spirit of God is therefore a necessity for the realapprehension and experiential proving of the truths exemplified in the life of Christ and His apostles in their authorityover the powers of darkness (Luke 10:17).2Editor's note: Evidently the author had access to a version of the Bible with a lower case "s" at this point, likely theRevised Version of 1881. Some other translations using a lower case "s" are The New American Bible (1970) andFarrar Fenton's translation (1903).8

Chapter SevenDiscerning Between Soul and SpiritHebrews 4:12When the the spirit is open to God, free and dominant, it becomes God’s channel for the Holy Spirit. In the earlydays of the Christian life the conflict is between spirit and flesh, but when you learn the meaning of the cross and have"crucified the flesh," the "flesh" side of things ceases to dominate the life. Then comes a much more subtle conflict—aconflict between spirit and soul; i.e., the "mental" life seeks to dominate the spirit. The soul-life—the intellectual andemotional life—is always seeking to get above the spirit, when in God’s order the spirit should be ruling and controllingthe intellect, emotions, and all that make up the "soul."Note that the "soul-life" is not to be killed, nor quenched, but is to be subservient to the spirit. Your personality—which is, practically, the "soul" in its human organism—is not to be annihilated. It is the "old Adam" life which wouldmanifest itself through your personality which is to be taken to the cross (Galatians 5:24), leaving "yourself" as aperson to be governed by the Holy Spirit in your spirit, through which God expresses Himself in your life.9

Chapter EightCounterfeits of the Spirit-lifeOne clear, strong principle for meeting all the supernatural manifestations of today is: One should not acceptanything supernatural until he is sure of its source.How little many believers understand what is "spirit"—and how many live in the soul (sensuous] realm and call it"spirit." There are experiences in the soul-life which appear to be spiritual but are sensuous, and wholly in the realm ofthe body. When the Lord said that "virtue had gone out of Him" He felt it in His spirit, for He lived a true spirit life. Heperceived in His spirit (Luke 8:46); He rejoiced in spirit, He groaned in spirit. He felt and knew all things in His spirit.The counterfeits of today are generally wrought upon the soulish or sense life of believers who have not learned todistinguish between soul and spirit. The church is not only "carnal" (fleshly), but is calling the "soulish" spiritual. Thedeceiving spirits work upon this ignorance, and only through bitter tears are the eyes of many of God’s children beingopened to deceptions in the highest altitudes of the Christian life, and they are coming to understand the true "life afterthe spirit" set forth in Paul’s epistles.3Nothing supernatural should be felt by the senses, but by the spirit. Let the Lord's children ask Him to teach themto know what is spirit and what is soul in their inner lives (Hebrews 4:12); then they will understand.3It cannot be too strongly emphasized that there is also a grave danger of the human spirit acting apart from the Spiritof God, thus giving ground to the enemy to produce counterfeit spiritual experiences, or counterfeit "guidance." Thebeliever needs to know that because he is spiritual his spirit is open to two forces of the spiritual realm—in a way notpossible to those who "walk after the flesh," or the carnal life of nature. If he mistakenly believes that only the HolySpirit can influence him, he is misled, for that would make him infallible. He needs to pray for keen discernment."Prove your own selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5).10

Chapter NineThe Soul-life Expressed in SpeechGalatians 5:25In prayer, refuse to have a sense of "lack of time." Choose to pray slowly, deliberately, with the force of your spiritin it. There can be the manifestation of the "soul life" in prayer. You may begin to pray in the spirit and then get downinto the "soul" by a rush of words from the uprising of the natural life.There is also a "talking" of the natural life that ought to go to the cross—a perpetual outflow of "talk" impossible tofollow, for it confuses the mind and quenches the spirit. Watch this, and do not put volubility down to your "upbringing"or temperament, for neither of these should check the Holy Spirit. Whatever your temperament may be, you shouldask God to make you deliberate in speech. Even in the commonest words, let there be intelligent, deliberate thought atthe back of them. "Let your speech always be with grace" (Colossians 4:6). This will do more for your spiritual life thanyou can imagine.Remember, evil spirits can take hold of the tongue and set it going like a talking machine, and if you have muchspiritual knowledge, which you try to make use of at such times, the consequences are much worse.11

Chapter TenKeeping the Mind Free for the SpiritThere are laws of the mind which we need to know, e.g., When it is working easily there is no strain, and as soon asit is strained it ceases its easy working. The Holy Spirit in your spirit gives light to your mind. When the enemy drivesthe mind, or it becomes strained or forced in action, it ceases to have the capacity of receiving light from the Holy Spirit.The demoniacal powers know this and do all they can to push you to strain your mind. It can be strained by dwellingon one theme until it cannot see anything else clearly—or by worry, anxiety, or even excessive "thinking" as to what isthe will of God. The mind ought to be the channel for light, given through the spirit by the Spirit of God.In co-working with others we need to understand that we ought not to break into the trend of the other personsthoughts and thus cause strain on the mind. No one can do consecutive thinking or spiritual thinking if the lawsgoverning the action of the mind under the teaching of the Holy Spirit are broken. In business, if an employer is dealingwith some very important matter requiring unbroken action of his mind, his assistant does not come right in upon himand say: "Excuse me, I must ask you so-and-so." And in the Lord's work also, the mind of one worker can be easilydisturbed and kept from quiet, calm action by the thoughtless dealing of one worker with another. So you should notspeak to another without attempting to find out before you speak what is the trend of that one's mind at the moment.Similarly, in helping inquiring souls you should first find out the point they are at mentally, meet them there, and thenlead them right on, spiritually, to intelligently apprehended truth. There are many who are suffering from overstrain; notfrom real work, mental or spiritual, but because of the ignorant breaking of God's laws for the mind.Moreover, when you are working with another and you do not see "eye to eye" mentally, you can still be of one spiritif you walk after the spirit. Understand this and you will delight in discovering all the different points of view God givesHis children. God is the only One with an infinite mind. If you remember that you have only a finite mind, you will notwant everyone to see eye to eye with you in everything.12

Chapter ElevenVictory in ConflictIt does not matter how "spiritual" you are—how fully God dwells in your spirit, or how carefully you "walk after thespirit"—you still have to meet a spirit foe, and the attacks of that foe are mainly against the spirit in the spiritual man.At one stage of the Christian life the attack may be on the mind, driving it into over activity or dullness; or on the body invarious ways; but the truly spiritual believer will find phases of conflict unknown in the earlier stages of the Christianlife.When you come into circumstances which the powers of darkness are using to attack you, the danger is to be noton guard concerning the effect this is having on your spirit. There may be a sense of disappointment, opposition, painor bondage coming into the spirit. You are "down," "pressed," and disturbed because the spirit is being attacked,through the enemy using circumstances or people against you. At such a time the first thing to do is not to opposeanything in the people or in the atmosphere but to keep your spirit untouched and free, holding your union with Christ,abiding in Him by faith. Secondly, refuse the attack of the enemy on your spirit and then claim the full victory of thecross over all the powers of darkness in the atmosphere around you. Learn to be still and calm in God. Hold thevictory of faith, and you will come out victoriously.Your spirit will not be fully at the disposal of God if it is crushed, bound, or in personal conflict. You must have afree spirit; therefore take care to get it free and keep it so. Then as you are disengaged in spirit, God will find in you aright instrument for His work. Many are out of tune with God because they are not up to date in prayer and inobedience to the Holy Spirit, and in all that keeps the spirit free for God. We must recognize the need of getting the"emotions" of the soul stilled so as to watch for the Spirit-leading of God—what men of God in centuries past used tomean when they spoke of "quietness of soul." Why this need? To get the soul-life still so that the spirit can ascendand rule.13

Chapter TwelveThe "Law of Passivity""I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily" (Colossians 1:29).This is only one of the scriptures which clearly show the necessity for the full active use of the whole outer man inGod’s service. God works mightily—I work mightily. That is absolutely contrary to the idea many have that God worksthrough a man like water goes through a pipe— simply passes power through him while he remains passive!As Christians, we perhaps know little of spiritists, probably have never read their books or come in contact withthem, and it is not always recognized that those who practice spiritism do really have communication with spirits—evilspirits.

Spiritual truth is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in such a way that we may trust and live in the light of the knowledge given to us. This is equally true of all that follows concerning conflict with the powers of evil; and an inbuilt resistance